I am an introvert. There is no way in which there is ambiguity around this. There is no way I can claim to be an extrovert and expect anyone who knows me to believe me.
I’ve always struggled with this. Conversations are the means by which we make connections with each other. As a social worker, I have conversations for a living. I look at some of my friends who are extroverts – wonderful conversationalists, vibrant and lively people who are comfortable in different situations. At least, who appear comfortable in different situations. Who are able to talk to strangers and make them feel comfortable. Who don’t (appear to) sit writhing in internal agony at the awkward pauses in conversations. These are the people I admire.
What I’ve realised, though, is that introverts are necessary, too. While my extroverted friends draw me out of myself and remind me to have fun, my quietness also gives them an opportunity to be quiet in return. My seriousness allows them to be serious. And it is my introversion, and the time I spend in my head, which allows me to be creative – to write, to think, to engage with the Creator, with the Sacred.
So I’m learning to respect what I’m starting to call my introvert time – the time I need to take to withdraw, to spend in solitude and silence. I’m learning that it’s not a deficit in me. Some of my friends don’t seem to need this time – but I do, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It simply goes to making me who and what I am.
Isn’t it funny that learning to respect our own needs is so much harder than learning to respect others’ needs? But I’m getting there. And it’s making me a better person.